On Thursday, March 1, Cairn University held its annual Church Leaders Conference, a one-day, cross-denominational conference. This year’s theme was “Justification by Faith Alone: The Glorious Gospel for Our Contemporary World.” Over 140 leaders, pastors, and other attendees gathered together on campus for a time of edification and encouragement. The keynote speaker was Dr. Thomas Schreiner, who is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and associate dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
This year’s conference included two main sessions, three parallel sessions, and a time devoted to fellowship and connection. In the first session, Dr. Schreiner gave an exposition of Romans 3:21-31 to highlight how Christ’s death, on behalf of those who trust in Him, secured their right standing with God. An excerpt from this passage reads: “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.” (Romans 3:22-25)
Afterward, three parallel sessions were held: “Meeting at Center: Gospel and Church Planting” by Bruce Finn, “Toward Gospel-Centered Contemporary Worship” by Dr. Benjamin Harding, and “The God We Worship” by Dr. James Dolezal. Bruce Finn is a local church planter, and Dr. Benjamin Harding and Dr. James Dolezal are the dean of the School of Music and a professor in the School of Divinity respectively. Attendees were able to enjoy smaller, more intimate group settings during these plenary sessions and over the lunch break. Dr. Schreiner then presented his second session. He further discussed the ways in which justification should reform the lives and ministries of those who place their faith in Christ.
“Gratefulness comes when we’re conscious of the gift we’ve been given,” Dr. Schreiner stated. Throughout the conference, warm fellowship and fraternal ambiance were evident. Attendees were reminded of the familiar, yet powerful doctrine of justification and how their lives have been radically changed by Christ’s work on their behalf.